A Farrago editor responds

I'm not going to make a habit of highlighting specific comments on this site, because I love each and every one of them. But given the recent debate here surrounding the execrable first issue of Melbourne University's student rag, I suspect this comment is of general interest.

(If you're not a Melbourne University student, can I direct your attention to the previous post? I'd really appreciate some input there...)

Jake Anson, one element in the quadruplex editorial collective for Farrago, wrote a defence of the direction for the student newspaper in 2004. I heartily recommend you read it before you let me dissect it below, because I don't disagree with all of his points, and I don't expect anyone to agree with me more than him.

By way of a preface: an unnamed but still precious correspondent made a very good point about this year's Farrago—specifically, that it is under more than usual scrutiny because it is the visible face of an organisation in utter disarray. None of the other office-bearing troglodytes have shown their hideous mugs, nor do they intend to. I think she is entirely correct in this analysis. I don't think, and I don't think she thought, this was grounds for exculpation, however.

I have reservations about the following exercise, because the main point I picked up from Jake's comment was that he was a well-intentioned bloke. But he is also the caretaker of my student newspaper, elected to and paid for the position. And I therefore beg to disagree with him on a few trivialities. So henceforth: blockquote, analysis, blockquote, analysis, ad infinitum.

Firstly, it would be utterly churlish of me as a self-proclaimed writer to correct an editor's spelling. So I won't. Er, wait.


I've decided to contribute so that I can at least debunk some of your concerns...

If we take my Collins dictionary definition of debunk:

to expose the pretensions or falseness of, esp. by ridicule

... I think that would be dangerous. But no more corrections! Substance, Joseph!

We arrived in the office (admittedly with one or two articles pre-written) about a fortnight prior to our printing deadline, and did not anticipate problems with computers and so forth.

There follows an apologia for the "below average" quality of the first issue. It took two weeks to make, which explains much, because "we are not fully paid for the summer period as editors." So hang on, you were paid over the summer period though? And you had just "one or two articles pre-written"?

The most striking feature of the first edition was its ugliness, and I didn't make a big point of it because it was a cheap shot, and you know I'm way above making cheap shots. Um. Anyway, I await, we all await, issue 2.


Clubs that did sumbit profiles and were not published have every right to be disapointed, though I would suggest (I'm not entirely sure but could check) that they have included a profile that we cannot publish for ethical or legal reasons, or, possibly 1 or 2 were left off for space reasons on the page. I apologise directly to CHAS if this was the case with their profile.

This is in response to an excellent point raised by "student". The club profile pages were six in number; below are pages five and six:

Scan of Farrago clubs page double-spread, showing copious whitespace

Not enough space? Come on, you're not trying. I will leave that "ethical or legal reasons" thing as an exercise for the reader.

The number of right-wing articles are not a reflection of an editorial direction for 2004, and I personally would like to publish articles from a diverse opinion base if possible.

This is a thoroughly commendable statement of principle. I sincerely look forward to seeing it happen.

Okay, so if you read Jake's comment with your antennae set to sensitive, you've already identified the money shot. But here it is anyway:

we've been subsequently asked by the liquidator not to comment on the interna changes to MUSUi, and as he's now running the union (and is my employer) we're weary about writing anything that could compromise ongoing legal investigations or further complicated the union's relationship with the university or community. In fact, I've probably just breached Vin's guidelines now

What the? Farrago is being muzzled by the liquidator? At this time? We're all guilty of excessive timidity on occasions, so I don't really blame Jake or his colleagues. But if you allowed me a meagre quota of two words to describe this situation, I would opt for "totally fucked up".

I would dwell there, but fear of distraction propels me onward. There's a fair few excuses on the grounds of limited knowledge of software, and steep learning curves, et cetera, in Jake's comment, which is fair enough. To a certain extent. Beyond that extent, there's a problem. Which is simply that the four editors petitioned the student body to be elected to their office on the claim of competence, and that renders incompetence, however transitory, an invalid excuse. You said you could do it to a certain standard; if you can't, should we accept the excuse? Hell if I know, but I have suspicions.

It's time for a blockquote.

We have changed the name from Farraguette to MU Weekly simply because we received a complaint from a group of students that said the previous name was homophobic and slanderous - probably insinuating that the previous name was too close sounding to an existing word.

I spent two minutes mouthing Farragette before I cottoned on. Or at least I think I cottoned on. Is it that Farragette has a phonetic similarity to "faggot"? Is that why it's homophobic? Go! had a unique conception of the meaning of "homophobia" during last year's elections, to say the least, but this still defies credulity. The most incisive criticism of the name I can dream up is the hint of misogyny, by implying the feminine suffix "-ette" is a diminutive, but it would take a femilinguist to confirm this. It's embedded in the language at the moment. The "slanderous" thing mystifies me, but shit, I don't care what it is called, I'm glad they're doing it. I haven't read it yet though, so I might revise the prior sentence.

I fully expected coming into this position to be exposed to personal attacks similar to those directed at Miranda above.

Going back through the comments, I can't find any personal attacks on Miranda. There was some hateful bile spilled by "Hacky McHack", but I deleted that a week ago. So I'm wondering whether Jake is referring to my post. I have actually heard mixed reports about whether my post was a personal attack on Miranda. I find this rather bizarre. I don't know Miranda. What I know is that she was elected to the role of Media Officer, and that she is paid comparatively handsomely to write for and edit it. I offered up a playful critique of her writing. (Those who were paying attention recognised that it was really a critique of Farrago in disguise.) I leave it entirely up to you, but I don't consider that a personal attack.

We had a shot and came up short, what would be really helpful now would be some assistance from others wishing to contribute articles and change the magazine for the better when future issues come along.

Well, you heard the man. I care about Farrago, and I've promised to consider writing for it when my workload dies down. I also have my own forum here, wherein I enjoy the freedom of complete editorial control. There is nothing like writing for an audience, seriously. Farrago is a big audience. And if you stand out from the crap, your audience is even bigger. Think about it.

That said, the editors are still accountable for what they publish. I intend to hold them accountable.

Joseph | 22 Mar 2004

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